M. Kasim Reed: Day 1

Pretty eventful day, all in all, for the new Mayor of Atlanta. First, he came out against a proposed road tunnel under east Atlanta. Then, he reorganized the higher echelons of the Atlanta Police Department (interesting moves).

Finally, he announced the creation of an “economic development czar” post in his administration.

Uhhhh, what?

Reed said he wants to be able to help businesses solve their problems more quickly, noting that New York City has an official who specializes in attracting and keeping businesses.

Following in the footsteps of his plans to appoint a “Pension Czar,” I’m curious what Mayor Reed needs an “economic development czar” for (other than to draw a no doubt six-figure salary)? Didn’t he campaign on what needs to be done for economic development? Doesn’t he know what needs to be done? And isn’t it really more the role of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce to develop strategies to recruit business to Fulton County?

(Answers: He doesn’t., Yes., We were told he did., Yes.)

If Mayor Reed is not aware of what needs to be done to help small business, I offer my services at half the salary of the “economic development czar” and will, in good faith, convey the results of my survey.

1. Less taxes
2. Less crime
3. Better basic services

I’ll be by City Hall later today to collect my paycheck.


  1. B Balz says:

    I was hugely happy to see that the City building permit department will be scrutinized for improvement. It is common knowledge in the construction business that the City is nearly impossible to deal with. Certain contractors simply don’t do business in Atlanta as a result.

    DeKalb made huge strides to improve their permitting processes, one thing ol’ Snuggles succeeded at.

  2. ByteMe says:

    And isn’t it really more the role of the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce to develop strategies to recruit business to Fulton County?

    The answer to that is a resounding “NO”, it’s not their role. Their role is to support their member businesses, not attract businesses to an area.

    I think it’s a great idea that he’s naming one person as the focal point for efforts to get businesses to move into the city. There are a lot of empty towers right now that need filling and “less taxes” isn’t going to get those businesses the money to pay those high-rise rents.

    And then you want “better basic services”, but don’t articulate exactly what needs to be better that’s not already being worked on (e.g., water/sewer).

    Your only semi-winner is “less crime” and as long as they keep the meth labs up in Cherokee County and bring more people to live in the city after dark, it can only keep getting better.

    • Pete Randall says:

      Wow, you should tell the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce to stop their work, because they evidently haven’t gotten your message that it isn’t their job!


      “The Metro Atlanta Chamber Economic Development Division has a highly experienced professional staff and a full complement of resources to recruit quality jobs and corporate operations of all types to the metro Atlanta region.”

      In fact, please call Hans Gant (their Senior Vice President for Economic Development) right now and let him know to shut down all operations because it isn’t their job!

      That job can only fall to our beloved government!

      • trainsplz says:

        Personal, I think the vote’s still out on whether the “czar” concept works. But we need all of the economic development we can get. He already got Peter T. Aman – a partner at Bain & Co – to be Atlanta’s COO. If he’s got more brains like that on tap for the czar spot, I’m all for it.

        As to your recommendations, if you can figure out how to deliver recommendations 2 and 3 without compromising recommendation 1, you should set your own fee.

      • ByteMe says:

        Uh huh. Do tell why it was THE GOVERNMENT who led the way to get Kia over near West Point and not the local CoC. Do tell us what a bang-up job the C0C is doing to fill those empty high-rise towers on Peachtree.

        Just because you write on a web site that you can do something doesn’t mean you’re actually doing it or doing it well enough.

        • Pete Randall says:

          Hmmm, you must have missed Point #1 in my masterful “three point” plan:

          1. Less Taxes

          That’s why and how Kia is in West Georgia. And you better believe the local Chamber of Commerce had a role in the matter.

          Further, in case you didn’t know it, there is a glut of commercial real estate nationwide. Charlotte, Dallas, New York, etc. It’s because we are coming out of a recession, but are better positioned than a goodly number of other cities.

          The real question is why you think government can do a better job than the Chamber of Commerce when the City of Atlanta government is pretty much known for slothful action and overspending.

          But, I forget, you don’t think the Chamber of Commerce is involved in bringing jobs to Atlanta…even though they clearly are.

          I’m done here. Moving on.

          • ByteMe says:

            Yes, do tell how the local CoC led the way to acquiring the land, getting the tax breaks and so on. Or were they just sniffing around and helping out while the state and local governments led the way? So they “had a role”, big deal.

            Nope, the CoC is definitely not the leader in bringing jobs to a region. That job falls on the rest of us as embodied by the government we elect. You may not like it — especially because it’s in Atlanta — but at least the mayor knows enough to delegate the problem to someone who will make it their full-time responsibility instead of having it be something that’s an after-thought.

            Yes, we’re sooo done, Mr. Lazy Thinker.

  3. Chris says:

    In Reed’s defense, there are only 24 hrs in a day and he needs to delegate to be effective. Reed’s experience in these matters means he 1) knows how to interview perspective economic development experts for the job 2) knows how to use the power of his office to help said expert he hired and 3) judge the performance of said expert he hired.

    • Pete Randall says:

      Make no mistake, I love some of the stuff he’s done on day one! But the point is that he already seems “czar happy” for things that the answers are readily apparent and for which Atlanta would be better served by him getting out of the way.

      • Chris says:

        I think you might over-estimate the power of the mayor. Atlanta City Government is corrupt and incompetent. Changing the guy at the top doesn’t fix anything. If Reed were to just “get out of the way” the shakedown artists would, as Icarus points out below, just keep screwing things up.

        I think calling him a czar is stupid, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t need a deputy to go in and sweep out the regulatory and cultural cruft.

  4. B Balz says:

    From AJC: David Bennett is a Senior Policy Advisor? WOW, that is huge, David is able to think independently, and I am encouraged the Mayor brought him on.

    His statement that he wants to improve the permitting department got a smattering of applause. The mayor said he’s looking at Cobb County as a model of how the city can help businesses get their permits approved more quickly. Reed said the effort will be led by senior policy adviser David Bennett, a former AJC reporter.

    Cobb and GWINCO have excellent permitting departments.

  5. Icarus says:

    If the Economic Development Czar is akin to what B Balz describes with the permit office (LONG overdue), then it’s a needed benefit and a complement to anything the Chamber of Commerce would be doing.

    The permit office is itself an exercise in government shakedowns. Back when I was building (never tried to build in the City of Atlanta -too many horror stories from this office) I was told it could take 18 months to 2 years to get a permit.

    An average builder would have his permit application shifted from department to department for their review. It would often take a month or more for each department to reveiw, and they would usually just add condidtions or comments that had to be reviewed by another department.

    The way around this process would be to hire an “expediter”, who “had connections” within the department and could walk it through in a matter of days. However, these entrepreneurs would usually charge between $5K and $15K for these services, so I was told.

    If the city wants to get serious about attracting businesses, they’re going to have to have someone on the inside who is willing to root out systematic processes that are designed to shake down the little guys, and/or only work with companies who are owned by the children of former mayors.

    If you want to call this person a “czar”, fine. Just get someone down there who an average guy can talk to without having to make a $5K campaign donation or pay a bribe first.

    • Pete Randall says:

      If the Economic Development Czar is akin to what B Balz describes with the permit office (LONG overdue), then it’s a needed benefit and a complement to anything the Chamber of Commerce would be doing.

      An “EDC” is not going to be delving into the Permit Office. They were distinct issues presented by Reed, as the AJC reports.

  6. Mike Hauncho says:

    Both Fulton County and the City of Atlanta have Economic Development Authorities. They are responsible for finding businesses to come to Atlanta and Fulton bringing jobs with them.

    There is absolutely no need for a Czar. Once again showing that Atlanta missed their opportunity for real change and a chance to start digging ourselves out of this hole. More of the same from the Reed adminstration.

  7. Rick Day says:

    Note to Czar: (because I know all the smart czars read PP)


    There is a good start. As useful as teats on a boar hog.

  8. BuckheadConservative says:

    Hey, is no one else excited that we’ve already had one job created on day one? And it’s a high paying one, too! At this rate, Kasim will create 1460 jobs in his first term.

  9. Mad Dog says:

    LOL! at all the czarisms being created.

    Anyone got a link to a job title of czar at a Human Resources website in Atlanta government?

    Newspaper quote and link for announcing a specific creation of Czar?

    Or is czar just a hot button code phrase for I don’t like your ideas?

  10. Comfortably Southside says:

    Republican or Dem, there is no way I would use the word czar right now. I would even go so far as to say “Dude I gave a job to” before I said Czar…
    And yes Republicans and Democrats liked Reagan..

    *Stands with the the majority of America and says YES, head held high*

    • Mad Dog says:

      You might double check that Reagan ‘tude … his approval ratings are greatly inflated. Almost as much as the egos of Reagaholics.


          • ByteMe says:

            Exactly. Sinking poll numbers in the middle of a deep recession are not exactly history-making. As long as the economy turns before ’12, Republicans have no chance to retake the Congress or the Presidency.

            Of course, here in Georgia, there’s not much of an alternative to the skirt-chasers.

          • GOPGeorgia says:

            It’s a long time between now and 2012, so I’m not making predictions on that regardless of what I would like to happen.

            I think everyone will agree that the GOP will make gains in both the house and the senate this year. Retaking the house is a possibility, but not a strong one (as of today).

  11. Three Jack says:

    well since the mayor is into this czar thing, how about he appoint a hobo czar, pothole czar, crime czar, traffic czar and water czar before attempting to attract economic development.

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